Thursday, May 21, 2015

one goal met

This week I reached one of my goals for 2015, which was to finish the Spanish portion of Duolingo.  If you have studied a language in the past and want to review, this website and app are worth looking at.  I have been recommending it to my friends here who want to improve their Spanish.  One thing I am glad to note is that although I finished all the levels, there are still opportunities to practice.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

ordinary things

It is getting close to the end of my time here, and one of my friends recommended that I take pictures of the ordinary things...as later I will be glad I did.  These pictures should give you a better idea of what Guanajuato is like.
 A view of the city after I leave my house in the morning.
A street I walk each day to get to the center of the city.
Another view of the city near my language school.
A callejon with many steps which I walk up and down to get to where I am living.  When I return to Minnesoa, any hill is going to seem like nothing compared to where I have been walking for the past three months. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Fahrenheit 451

I read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury this week.  The story is set in an unidentified city of the United States where owning books is banned.  Firefighters have a different role in this futuristic novel.  Their job is to burn books, and generally the home where the books are found.  Guy, the main character, is a firefighter who realizes the value of books.   His life changes quickly and drastically in ways he could not have imagined.   Although this book was written over sixty years ago, there are some things that remind me of how influential mass media is in our culutre.  The book is worth reading even if you generally do not read much literature.  It would also be a good choice for a book club.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Don Quixote

I am done reading Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes.  It was not on my list of books I need to read someday, but after I arrived here in Guanajuato visited the museum about the classic story it seemed like a good idea.  There is a Cervantes library here with lots of copies of the book...in many languages including English.  So reading the book became a goal, which I completed yesterday.  This version is long-940 pages-but the newest English translation in the library here.  It took a long time (over 16 hours), and I do not think I would have persevered in reading it if I had been in the States.  I wanted to know why it is so famous, and am not sure I know.  Don Quixote is the main character, and his companion in his exploits is Sancho Panza.  Anyone reading it would quickly come to the conclusion that the two of them are obviously crazy.  There adventures are at times entertaining, and there are stories within the story.  But parts of the book are just plain long-Quixote is fond of talking a lot, much of it lunacy.  Thankfully, once part 2 started, it seemed to get better, and move along more quickly.  Maybe because of the length of the book, or being distracted by reading such a long book, sometimes I could not keep all the characters straight.  Have you read the book?  It might be worth reading, but sometime when you have lots of extra time and are feeling diligent.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

learning

Saturday I went to an outdoor swimming park.  I was not planning on it.  My Mexican friend invited me to go to Balneario de Comanjilla via e-mail.  I asked her (also by e-mail) where it was, and she replied that it was before the exit to León.  Since I had never been there, I wanted to go.  I thought that it would be a good opportunity to see another community in Mexico.  On Saturday I met her at the central bus station as planned.  I had some money, water bottle, and my camera.  When she got there, she asked if I had my things for swimming.  I explained that I did not know that we were going swimming.  She said she had told me. And she had, in a roundabout way, since balneario indicates it is a place where there are pools. The funny thing is that the day before I had told several other Mexican friends where I was going.  None of them mentioned to me or referred to the reason people go to this place.  I thought about going home, but my friend said she had brought extra swimsuits.  It turns out that there was a whole group from church going, we spent the day at the place and everyone had brought food to share.  Thankfully, they were more than willing to share their food as well as an extra towel and sunscreen.
It turns out to be something to laugh about, but also a good lesson.  My Spanish speaking friends thought I would know what the place would be since I know a fair amount of Spanish.  I never asked what was at Balneario de Comanjilla or if I needed to bring anything special.  I need to remember to ask for more details, and I think my friend will remember to be more specific.  The good thing about this lesson is was funny instead of difficult, like some lessons tend to be.  

Friday, April 24, 2015

recently

 The last couple weeks I have been keeping busy with several different things.  I started an art class.  Above is my first complete drawing.  If you look closely, the dog part of the picture was inspired by a page in one of my favorite books for children...Dog Loves Books.  Itis good to be learning and practicing my Spanish while (hopefully) improving my drawing skills.
I have also been trying to use my time well in studying Spanish.  I finally made some flashcards for vocabulary.  Learning grammar was very helpful at the beginning of my studies, now I spend a lot of time talking with others, reading, and learning new words.  It is easy to see that I have learned plenty since August.  Now that time is getting shorter for my studies, I am more devoted to utilizing the opportunity I have here. 
The last thing that has been taking up my time is reading Don Quixote.  There is an English copy in the library which I cannot check out, so have been spendt a fair amount of time reading there.  Progress is slow, but I may be able to finish it by the end of next week.